BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Quality Food Centers here said store acquisitions and an extended fiscal year boosted sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31.
net earnings for the 45-store chain were $26.4 million, or $1.34 per share, a 1.5% gain over last year.
Sales for the quarter increased 17.5% to $192.2 million. For the year, sales rose 11.1% to $575.9 million.
Same-store sales rose 0.08% for the quarter, but fell 0.5% for the year. QFC attributed the drop to food price deflation of 1.4% and heightened competition in the Seattle-Puget Sound region.
QFC added seven stores during the year, including five acquired from Kent, Wash.-based Johnny's in May. But competitors -- mainly Safeway and Albertson's -- also opened or remodeled stores in the region in 1994, which hurt sales in some QFC stores, according to Marc Evanger, vice president and chief financial officer.
As reported, the company announced plans last month for a merger with Olson's Food Stores, Lynnwood, Wash., that would give it 12 existing units, four stores still under construction, and rights to several future sites.
The company also recently acquired one store in the Rainer Valley region of Washington and three stores from Puget Sound Marketing, Puyallup, Wash.
"These stores will increase our count by 16, or 561,000 square feet -- a 42% increase," said Stuart Sloan, chairman and chief executive officer. Bob Toomey, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, Seattle, said: "QFC's been losing market share in the region. It's being squeezed by Safeway and Albertson's.